Skip to content

Writing the Century – “Once Upon a Time”

>The BBC Radio 4 series that explores the 20th century through the diaries and correspondence of real people, returns with “Once Upon A Time” by Amanda Whittington – a “touching, coming of age drama set in 1979 based on the diary of a gay teenager living in a Nottinghamshire mining town”.

Based on the 1979 diary of an 18-year-old miner’s son, “Once Upon A Time” is the story of three teenage boys looking for love and acceptance, each hoping for their own happy, “walk into the sunset” ending.

Steven lives with his father, who knows and accepts his son is gay. The rest of the world isn’t quite so accommodating. It’s January 1st. Steven feels “confused, excited and frightened” at what 1979 might bring. His best friends are Chrissy and Gloria, two unemployed boys of the same age, who are living down the road as girls and dreaming of a glamorous new life.

All three live for the weekend, when they go to Nottingham’s only gay club in search of adventure. The club is like Oz to their Kansas existence but it has its dark side. What Steven really wants is a loving relationship but, in his world, it seems like an impossible dream.

1979 was a vintage year for pop. In the first week of January alone, the Top 40 featured YMCA, Le Freak, I’m Every Woman, Hanging on the Telephone, Rat Trap and I Love the Nightlife. Such classic songs are the soundtrack to the young friends’ turbulent lives.

The programme (in 5 parts) is aired this week at the end of Woman’s Hour at 10.45am and again in the evenings at 7.45. It is available online for a limited period of time, here.

Leave a Reply